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Germany orders Amazon to stop ‘typo-targeting’ people who can’t spell Birkenstock

January 08, 2018

birkenstock
A German court has recently ordered Amazon to stop using “typo targeting” to serve ads to shoppers who misspell the brand name “Birkenstock” on Google, according to a report by Reuters.

Amazon reportedly scored customers for common Birkenstock misspellings by booking variants like “Brikenstock,” “Bierkenstock,” and “Birkenstok” in Google AdWords, so that they produced search results for shoes sold on Amazon.com.

The preliminary injunction was issued by a district court in Dusseldorf, according to Der Spiegel.

The case originates from a dispute with the iconic sandal maker and Amazon over counterfeit goods. Birkenstock claims Amazon doesn’t do enough to combat the flood of knock-offs on the site. It’s not just Birkenstock – many other brands across the board are in conflict with the eCommerce giant over fake goods.

Birkenstock turned to the court because it feared shoppers might unwittingly buy shoddy counterfeits, which could damage its brand reputation. “For us, Amazon is complicit,” Birkenstock chief Oliver Reichert told German magazine Der Spiegel, according to Reuters.

Typo-targeting is a technique used by counterfeiters to dodge copyright laws and sell their goods online. It’s also common practice for eCommerce marketers to use and track misspelled words to get consumers what they’re looking for. A great example of this an entire campaign built around the misspelled of the name Snickers, using instead the spelling ‘Snikkers”.

The Birkenstock decision is not final but considering misspellings and typo-targeting as deceptive could soon drastically change how search results are presented in Germany.

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